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Factors influencing knowledge sharing at a selected tertiary institution in South Africa
Harker, Lee-Anne Lesley
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The aim of this study was to understand the factors that affect knowledge sharing among higher education academics. The main research objective was to identify factors to contribute to a framework to guide the implementation of knowledge sharing strategies for the higher education context. To achieve this objective, four research questions were explored in order to reveal factors affecting the formation, growth, stability and institutionalisation of knowledge sharing in a network of aligned interest. Knowledge sharing is not institutionalised in higher education in South Africa and therefore knowledge in higher education is not always captured nor systematically organised. This leads to a lack of retention of valuable institutional know-how, inefficient work processes and reinventing the wheel. The actor-network theory (ANT) underpinned the research to tease out factors influencing knowledge sharing. This was a qualitative study, employing an interpretive case study methodology. Interviews were conducted with eighteen academic staff members from a University of Technology (UoT) in South Africa. The population comprised all academic staff members from the selected UoT who are actively participating in teaching and learning activities. The population was limited to academics appointed at a level of junior lecturer, lecturer and senior lecturer and excluded Associate Professors and Professors. Semistructured interviews enabled the factors to be explored inductively. Social, process and technology factors continue to pervade knowledge sharing in the higher education context. Process factors receive significant focus before human and technology factors. The organisational culture and management support emerged as the most important human factors. The culture of the institution has determined its entrenched behaviour. Management are tasked to embody the leadership skills that are required for the gradual assimilation of the principles of knowledge sharing in the institution. Practical recommendations are made in light of these factors, and the general framework, for implementation by managers on an institutional, faculty and departmental level.